In light of the violent attacks by students against fellow students on our high school campuses, what do you think are the vital components to raising kids who don't snap and self-destruct?
I can summarize the answer to this in four words: love, time, limits, and grace. Let's start with love; I like to define it as the commitment of my will to your needs and best interest, regardless of the cost. The secret to success is in the last phrase "regardless of the cost." There's a price to pay in parenting that is well worth the effort. But it may affect where we work, whether we work outside the home, what standard of living we choose, how much discretionary time is left for us, etc.
Time, is a powerful four-letter word when it comes to raising complete kids. We have to give them attention, focus, and energy. It's not enough to pat ourselves on the back for all the hours we spent in the bleachers cheering them on in sports. That's time "watching" them, not engaging them in heart-to-heart dialogue. It's important to support their endeavors, but that time can't substitute for being there for them.
Limits talks about the moral boundaries we place around our children's hearts. All kids are born with a selfish streak in them. It's part of their fallen nature. This nature is wild and has the potential to be dangerous if it isn't put in check. Dads play a key role in taming the wild tendencies of a child. Moms play a key role in soothing those tendencies. Vital to all of this is that we have clearly defined moral convictions in our own heart, and that we live by them.
Grace is not so much what we do, it's how we do what we do. It's that blending of the hard and soft side of love that gives the child the right response in any given situation. We increase our ability to respond properly by continuing to draw closer and closer to the Lord in our daily walk. Ultimately, He helps us know what is appropriate when leading our kids through the maize of life.